Friday 16th February Short: ACE, Australia, Dir: Jessica Evans Cast: Rosie Evans and Ace (narrated by Michael Chalmers)
Main: I, DANIEL BLAKE, UK, 2016, 100 mins. Dir: Ken Loach Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Dylan McKiernan, Sharon Percy, Briana Shann
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this is the twenty-sixth film from legendary director Ken Loach and is a gripping human tale about the impact one man can make. Gruff but goodhearted, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a man out of time: he lives according to his own common sense moral code. But after becoming unemployed he finds that the state welfare system fails him. The stubbornly self-reliant Daniel then has to stand up and fight for his dignity, leading a one-man crusade for compassion that will transform the lives of a struggling single mother and her children.
Friday 16th March
Main: THE WOMEN ON THE 6TH FLOOR, France, 2010, 106 mins. Dir: Philippe Le Guay
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Kiberlain, Natalia Verbeke
It’s Paris, 1962. A wealthy stockbroker Jean-Louis Jouvert lives a staid bourgeois existence with his perfectly-presented socialite wife. But when the family’s maid abandons them, into the residence comes Maria, a young, hardworking Spanish beauty. Through Maria, Jean-Louis’ eyes are opened to a new and enchanting world of music, mayhem, and the joie de vivre of the other Spanish servants on the sixth floor, and before long the balance of the household ruptures into wild, cross-cultural chaos.
Friday 13th April (a second Friday)
Main: KATYN, Poland, 2008, 121 mins. Dir: Andrzej Wajda
Cast: Artur Zmijewski, Maja Ostaszewska, Andrzej Chyra, Danuta Stenka
Katyn describes the tragedy of a generation. The film follows the story of four Polish families whose lives are torn apart when, at the outset of WWII, a great number of Polish soldiers (who are also fathers, husbands and brothers) fall into the hands of Soviet troops and later brutally become victims of Stalinism.
One of the officers murdered on the fatal day in Katyn was Jakub Wajda, whose son, Andrzej, would become a leading Polish film director. At 82, Andrzej has evoked what happened that day in Katyn and how it infected Polish society for 50 years. The film underlines the complicated circumstances of Poland’s position both in the war and after. A powerful, moving film.
Friday 18th May
Main: TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE, USA, 1948, 126 mins. Dir: John Huston
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
One of Warner Bros triumphs of the forties, the film is a riveting adventure/drama story which explores the degenerative effects of encroaching greed and distrust on three prospectors who join together to find gold in Mexico. Humphrey Bogart’s performance is considered one of his finest, but the director’s father, Walter Huston, as one of the prospectors, stole the picture from Bogart and won the Academy Award, and John Huston won Academy Awards for direction and screenplay. A “don’t want to miss a minute of it” classic adventure.
Friday 15th June
Main: THE LAST LAUGH, Germany, 1924, 77 mins. Dir: F.W. Murnau
Cast: Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz
An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.
F.W. Murnau’s “The Last Laugh” (1924) is one of the most famous of silent films, and one of the most truly silent, because it does not even use printed intertitles. Silent directors were proud of their ability to tell a story through pantomime and the language of the camera, but no one before Murnau had ever entirely done away with all written words on the screen (except for one sardonic comment at the end). He tells his story through shots, angles, moves, facial expressions and easily read visual cues.
Friday 20th July
Main: THE LUNCHBOX, India, 2013, 104 mins. Dir: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nirmrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
The Lunchbox is a bittersweet love story about two strangers in Mumbai, who have never met and communicate only through notes. A strikingly original, idiosyncratic and charming love story told with subtlety and with superb acting by the three central characters.The film was an amazing directorial debut for Ritesh Batra.
Gorge into it and savour its lingering aftertaste. The Lunchbox holds riches that aren’t likely to be forgotten in a hurry.
Friday 17th August
Main: CHARLIE’S COUNTRY, Australia, 2013, 108 mins. Dir: Rolf de Heer
Cast: David Gulpilil, Peter Djigirr, Luke Ford
Charlie’s Country is an Australian drama film directed by Rolf de Heer. It was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where David Gulpilil won the award for Best Actor.
Displeased with the intervention of whitefella laws, Charlie takes off to live the old way and sets off a chain reaction of enlightening difficulties. Powerfully performed and beautifully directed, Charlie’s Country uses its protagonist’s personal saga to explore poignant universal themes.
Friday 21st September
Main: FAR FROM MEN (LOIN DES HOMMES) , France, 2014, 102 mins. Dir: David Oelhoffen.
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Reda Kateb
Featuring a career-best performance by the multi-talented Viggo Mortensen and a superb original soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Far from Men is a gripping tale of morality and friendship set during the Algerian War against the unforgiving landscape of the Atlas mountains. It is a harsh, engrossing film, with two powerful performances, and a strong sense of moral inquiry. Based on a short story by Albert Camus.
Friday 19th October
Main: CLOUDBURST, Canada, 2011, 93 mins. Dir: Thom Fitzgerald
Cast: Oympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Kristin Booth, Ryan Doucette
A low budget, Canadian road movie, in which a lesbian couple escape from their nursing home and head to Canada to marry. On the way they pick up a young male hitchhiker. It features beautiful scenery and great acting from the two septuagenarian stars. This is a heart-warming film as well as a lively comedy and (according to the distributors) has won 30 best picture awards.
Friday 9th November (a second Friday)
Main: AMAZING GRACE, GB, 1987, 118 mins. Dir: Michael Apted Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Benedict Cumberbatch
This is an inspiring story based on the legendary William Wilberforce. During the late 18th century and early 19th century, a very young Wilberforce is elected to Parliament and over the course of several decades leads the fight to ban slavery. Wilberforce starts out as almost a force of one and slowly builds abolitionist momentum by brilliant oratory, political manoeuvres and by appealing to his fellow man’s better nature. The film is gorgeous to look at, brilliantly capturing the look and sound of a sumptuous age and clearly explains the entrenched political and economic motives for slavery.